By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
Oct. 10, 2007 - The Army is exploring new ways to accelerate the development of leaders prepared for the broad challenges they'll face in what's expected to be an era of persistent conflict, the Army's chief of staff said here yesterday. "We are committed to investing in our officer, warrant officer, noncommissioned officer and civilian leaders," Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. told attendees at the annual Association of the U.S. Army convention. "In this era of persistent conflict, it is absolutely essential that we develop leaders that can handle the challenges of full-spectrum operations."
Full-spectrum operations include the broad range of missions soldiers can be called on to carry out: from supporting peacetime operations to conducting major combat operations, and everything in between.
This operating environment requires agile, adaptive leaders, able to shift quickly and smoothly between missions, Casey said.
"Our leaders in the 21st century must be competent in their core competencies, broad enough to operate across the full spectrum of conflict, able to operate in joint, interagency and combined environments, at home in other cultures and courageous enough to see and exploit opportunities in the complex environments they will be operating in," he said.
Just as warfare has changed, so too has the way the Army develops leaders, Army Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, commander of the Army's Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., said during a panel discussion about accelerating leader development.
"We don't want to teach you what to think," he said. "We want to teach you how to think."
This effort extends throughout the Army's education and professional development system, through a blend of formal education, operational experience and guided self-development, Caldwell said.
Officer candidates are getting more field and operational experience, Maj. Gen. W. Montague Winfield, commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command, told attendees. Officers are getting more educational opportunities and more access to joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational training, Brig. Gen. Mark O'Neill, deputy commandant of the Army's Command and General Staff College, told the group.
Warrant officers are attending more officer training courses, said Col. Mark Jones, command of the Army Warrant Officer Career Center. And recognizing that its enlisted force is "taking on more responsibility earlier in their careers than ever before, the Army is adapting its training programs so they're better prepared, said Col. Donald Gentry, commandant of the Army Sergeants Major Academy.
Meanwhile, the Army is tapping into best practices from the private and public sectors to accelerate training and development of its civilian work force that's filling critical positions and maintaining continuity, said Volney "Jim" Warner, director of the Army's Civilian Development Office.
How well the Army develops soldiers and leaders able to operate effectively and efficiently in an era of persistent conflict will have far-reaching impact on the force and its ability to succeed, the officials agreed.
"Soldiers are the strength of this Army, and they make this Army the strength of this nation," Casey said. "It will be our soldiers who lead us to victory over the nation's enemies, and it will be soldiers who preserve the peace for us and for our allies."